Impact of Music on Decision Making in Quantitative Tasks (2016)
Elad Liebman, Peter Stone, and Corey N. White
The goal of this study is to explore which aspects of people’s analytical decision making are affected when ex- posed to music. To this end, we apply a stochastic sequen- tial model of simple decisions, the drift-diffusion model (DDM), to understand risky decision behavior. Numerous studies have demonstrated that mood can affect emotional and cognitive processing, but the exact nature of the impact music has on decision making in quantitative tasks has not been sufficiently studied. In our experiment, participants decided whether to accept or reject multiple bets with dif- ferent risk vs. reward ratios while listening to music that was chosen to induce positive or negative mood. Our re- sults indicate that music indeed alters people’s behavior in a surprising way - happy music made people make bet- ter choices. In other words, it made people more likely to accept good bets and reject bad bets. The DDM de- composition indicated the effect focused primarily on both the caution and the information processing aspects of de- cision making. To further understand the correspondence between auditory features and decision making, we stud- ied how individual aspects of music affect response pat- terns. Our results are particularly interesting when com- pared with recent results regarding the impact of music on emotional processing, as they illustrate that music af- fects analytical decision making in a fundamentally differ- ent way, hinting at a different psychological mechanism that music impacts.
In 17th International Society for Music Information retrieval Conference (ISMIR), NYC, USA, August 2016.

Elad Liebman Ph.D. Student eladlieb [at] cs utexas edu
Peter Stone Faculty pstone [at] cs utexas edu